La Peña: Música latina en la Old Town School

Old Town School of Folk Music has digitized hours of audio and video that document a portion of the School’s La Peña concert series (1995-2005), and has licensed the performances for public access via the online platform maintained by THE ILLINOIS DIGITAL ARCHIVE. This project provides public access to fragile, previously unavailable traditional and ethnic arts source material from Chicago’s Hispanic community, and engages new, diverse, and culturally curious communities.

In support of this release to the Illinois Digital Archive, the Resource Center at the Old Town School of Folk Music is releasing a podcast trailer and four new episodes of the Archives Podcast. Additionally, four interview videos and eight concert video shorts will be released.

Trailer – La Peña: Música latina en la Old Town School

Esto es la historia de La Peña, the first Latin music concert series at the Old Town School—the predecessor to today’s enormously successful World Music Wednesday concerts. To tell the tale, we’ll share stories and music, en inglés y en español, from the people who were there. Episodes come out the first Wednesday of the month, starting in March. Listen on iTunes, SoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. ¡Nos vemos el miercoles!


Ep 23 - La Peña: El principio

Esto es la historia de La Peña, the first Latin music concert series at the Old Town School, pretty much the predecessor to today’s enormously successful World Music Wednesday concerts. But the story of La Peña is really just one part of a larger story, about how the Old Town School in the 1980s was brought back from the brink of closure, in large part by broadening their definition of “folk” in highly intentional ways. To tell the tale, we’ll share stories and music, en inglés y en español, from the people who were there. Featuring an interview with Juan Díes, founder of La Peña, and former Director of Community Outreach at the school.

Interview with Juan Díes

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Concert segment: Manteca Colorá

Concert segment: Arley Otalvaro


Ep 24 - La Peña: “The School was in dire straits”

In the early 1980s, the Old Town School came the closest it ever has to shutting its doors. How did they manage to stay open? Escucha la historia en la segunda parte de la serie La Peña. In this episode we hear stories—en inglés y español—from Juan Díes, Jim Hirsch, Michael Miles and Roberto Arce, alongside música latina from the archives.

Producing La La Peña - Interview with Juan Díes & Luis Jahn

Concert segment: Los Duques

Concert segment: Los Hermanos Olavarría


Ep 25 - La Peña: Music and empanadas

“I think some people came because they could eat the empanadas. And then, yeah, the music.” En la tercera parte de la serie, we hear how the La Peña concert series finally came to be. In this episode we hear stories—en inglés y español—from Jim Hirsch, Juan Díes, Luis Jahn, and Roberto Arce, alongside música latina from the archives.

Music and Empanadas - Interview with Juan Díes

Concert segment: Roberto Arce

Concert segment: Guillermo Velázquez y Los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú


Ep 26 - La Peña: Desde La Peña hasta World Music Wednesday

En la parte final de la serie, La Peña comes to a close, and makes room for a new and broader concert series, which continues to this day: World Music Wednesday. In this episode we hear stories—en inglés y español—from Juan Díes, Mateo Mulcahy, and Roberto Arce, alongside música latina from the archives.

From La Peña to World Music Wednesday - Interview with Mateo Mulcahy

Concert segment: Larry Mesirow

Concert segment: Inga Pirca